Ordinary Middle of Month Thursday Rundown

Must say I didn’t mind the 75 degree weather we had today in Myrtle Beach. My parents and siblings, on the other hand, are enduring a big snow storm in Spokane. So, if you are in South Carolina go ahead and cool off with my latest Thursday Rundown but if you are in Washington state feel free to warm up with it (that probably didn’t make sense at all). Here we go…

Valentine’s Day Recap – Yesterday, Sid and I repeated our Valentine’s Day tradition we started in 2017 with one minor wrinkle – we let a little person join us! Sloan participated in our card exchange early Wednesday morning. Although she didn’t have a card to give, we still gave her one (and a couple toys). Our little girl also started her own mini Lenten journey when she participated in Ash Wednesday by receiving ashes. The combination of her Valentine’s Day outfit and the dusting of ash on her forehead made for a very special photo.

Note: Last night on social media, I posted the link to my 2013 Lenten blog post instead of the one I wrote yesterday evening. Sorry for the error. You can read my 2018 Lenten blog post by clicking here.

Sloan looked great sporting her Valentine’s Day outfit and ashes.

Instagram Safety – Although it wasn’t the reason why I wanted to be on the news, I did give a couple interviews this week to local stations about protecting yourself on Instagram. Recently, a fake Instagram account tried to scam some of our students. True to the intelligence of our students at CCU, most didn’t fall for it. I spoke with WPDE and WMBF about the incident and gave advice on how to spot a fraud. Thanks to Summer Dashe and Amy Kawata for their stories.

I was on the news earlier this week discussing Instagram safety.

Reunited With A Winner – Last Friday, the Coastal softball team opened up the 2018 season by hosting Iowa State. The significance of this? The Cyclones are led by Jamie Pinkerton, the man who was hired at the University of Montana to start its softball program. Coach Pinkerton joined the Griz athletic department about seven months before I left for CCU. During that short time period I got to know Jamie and really respected how he went about beginning a program from scratch and also by how he treated me. It was no surprise that he had tremendous success at Montana and was quickly hired as the head coach at Iowa State. At the end of last week, I got to see Coach Pinkerton win his debut with the Cyclones and I also had the pleasure of catching up with him. The guy is a pure winner.

I was reunited with Jamie Pinkerton this past Friday.

Winter Olympics Review – As many of you know, I was lacking enthusiasm for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Probably because I set the bar so low, I now find myself kind of enjoying the games. Over the past week, I have watched the early morning coverage while working out at the gym and then Sid and I have fallen asleep watching the primetime coverage. Although still nowhere close to the Summer Olympics in terms of entertainment and prestige, I am blown away by the talent and fearlessness of some of these athletes.

Sloan at 48 Weeks – Sloan is wrapping up her second consecutive healthy week. She babbles non-stop and is a handful to keep tabs on, even if she is still just crawling. Her hair is really coming in and it is starting to resemble that of a little girl. She is extremely sweet in the mornings and a “little monster” (our term of endearment for her) around 7 – 9 p.m. She is starting to pull herself up and she is having a great time experimenting with real people food. On Saturday she will be 11 months!!

Here is Sloan’s 48 week collage.

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To all those people who hate Valentine’s Day, take solace that it is now over and the weekend is right around the corner. Thanks for reading! Don’t Blink.

The Journey of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, a major day on the Catholic liturgical calendar and those of many other Christian denominations as well. Although not a Holy Day of Obligation, Ash Wednesday mass is one of the most highly-attended services during the year. It kicks off the holy season of Lent, a period of 40 days (technically 46 days) where we prepare for Easter by trying to emulate the suffering that Jesus Christ endured by Satan in the desert over the same course of time.

What does your Lenten journey look like?

Five years ago, I wrote about Lent through the eyes of an individual. As Christians, we are not only called to fast, pray, and give alms but we are asked to do it in a private manner. The gospel clearly says that when we make a big deal about doing righteous acts, we are seeking the praise of others, not God. When we aim to earn praise from our social media followers or our friends, we will lose out on our reward in Heaven. Thus, it is important not to openly publicize or gloat about our Lenten intentions.

However, Lent is not meant to be confined solely within ourselves. Rather, over the next 40 days, the opportunities are plentiful to grow closer to Jesus as a Christian community. Daily mass, group rosary, Stations of the Cross, communal confession, bible studies, and Friday fish frys are great ways to connect with others as we journey toward Easter. Although our personal sacrifices are meant to be kept private, our desire to understand and anticipate the resurrection of the Lord is not.

In my opinion, there is no better road to take than the Lenten road. Easter is the holiest day on the calendar for all Christians and it takes preparation to properly celebrate it. Through fasting, praying, and almsgiving we give ourselves plenty of time to meditate and reflect on both the darkest hour of mankind (the Passion) and the glorious moment of redemption. It is tough to truly understand and appreciate these events if we just “wing it.”

This morning at Ash Wednesday mass, our parish administrator at St. Andrew, Fr. Roger Morgan, explained the symbolism of the ashes perfectly. He said they aren’t applied so we can “identify ourselves as part of a tribe” (i.e. Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, etc.). Instead, they are applied to identify ourselves simply as sinners. It is pure reality. We are all sinners and there is no better way to come to grips with this and truly focus on it than six weeks before Easter.

Although most of us wiped the ashes off our foreheads at the conclusion of the service we attended, it is important to act as if they are still there. Lent is a time to humble ourselves and draw closer to God. We need to accept that we are sinners but do everything possible to overcome temptations and seek the narrow way. Don’t Blink.

The Real Purpose of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday. For the next 40+ days, Christians will embark on a very holy journey called Lent. This is a very beautiful time for growing with God in preparation for the most sacred day on the calendar, Easter.

This post is going to be very brief. I just want to get across what Lent is rather than what many perceive it to be. Lent is not about “giving something up”. It is not some silly New Year’s resolution. Rather, Lent is about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Of course, going without many gratifications is part of the fasting component of Lent. But there is so much more. In my opinion, what we decide to do during Lent is much more important than what we decide not to do considering prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are things you do, not things you “give up”.

Non-Catholics and Catholics alike sometimes confuse the purpose of Lent. It is NOT a time to get praise from others for what we do during the 40 days but a time to get closer to God. It is this reason why it is very important to never ask someone what they are doing for Lent or on the other hand to make public what we are doing for Lent. This is made very clear during today’s Ash Wednesday gospel reading (Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21). Jesus taught us that hypocrites will let others know that they are fasting, praying, and giving alms. These people who let up their guard and let others know that they are not eating during a certain day or abstaining from meat or not partaking in a certain activity or practice have totally lost the purpose of doing so. Because they have confided in people and received their praise, they will not receive praise from God. However, those who do deeds in private so that others don’t know will receive praise from God.

But I am not here to give a scripture lesson. Not only am I 100% unqualified to do so, but I have way too many sins to ever attempt to preach the Good Word to anyone. I guess all that I want to do is just get the general message across, a message that everyone can easily understand: Lent is a private time for individuals. It is a time to get closer to God while forsaking any opportunity for attention and praise from others. 

To everyone who observes Lent, have the most blessed season ever. Don’t Blink.